Sending spam with malicious attachments is a fairly popular way of spreading malware and infecting users’ computers on the Internet. According to data from various antivirus companies, the proportion of emails with malicious attachments ranges from 3 to 5 percent of total spam traffic, which means that at least every thirtieth email in the spam mailing stream contains a malicious surprise.
Email viruses are real, but computers don’t get infected just by opening emails. Just opening emails to view is safe – although attachments can be dangerous to open. There have been security problems with Microsoft Outlook in the past that have caused a lot of damage, and some people still think that just opening an email is dangerous. This is wrong.
So, here is what you should know about viruses in your emails.
Why is it safe to open email
Emails are text or HTML documents (web pages). Just as opening a text file or web page in your browser must be secure, opening an email message must also be secure. Whether you use Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, or another web-based or desktop-based email client, opening an email – even a suspicious one – must be safe.
However, some emails may try to infect you after you open them. They may contain malware in the form of attachments or have links to malicious websites containing malware and scams. You should run secure attachments – even if someone you trust sends you a file attachment with the .exe file or another program file, you probably shouldn’t open it. They may be compromised.
Like everyone else on the Internet, you shouldn’t run programs that automatically download to your computer after you click a link.
Why was opening emails once unsafe
As long as you use modern software, including your email client, browser, browser plug-ins, and operating system, you should be able to open emails and view them without fear.
How to protect email from fishing and malware
File attachments and links in emails can be dangerous. Follow these guidelines to stay safe:
- Use anti-virus software. In Windows, anti-virus software is an important layer of protection. It can help protect you from software bugs and errors that allow malware to run without your permission.
- Update your email client, web browser, and operating system. Software updates are important because bad guys regularly find holes and try to exploit them. Software updates plug these holes and protect you. If you use an outdated browser and email client, you may be compromised.
- Don’t run any dangerous apps. If you receive a PDF file from someone, it’s probably safe to open it (especially if your PDF reader is updated). However, if you suddenly get an email with an .exe file or other potentially dangerous file type that you’re not expecting – even if it’s from someone you know, you probably shouldn’t run the attachment. Be extremely careful with email attachments – they’re still a common source of infection.
- Be careful with links. Clicking on links should be safe, just as loading a site in your browser should be safe. However, if a link looks like it leads to a site that hosts malware and scams, you probably shouldn’t click it. If you click the link, don’t download or run potentially dangerous files. You should also watch out for phishing – if you click a link in an email that appears to be from your bank and goes to a similar website, it may not be your bank’s website, but a clever imposter.
What does phishing mean in cybersecurity
Phishing is an illegal act committed in order to get a person to share confidential information, such as a password or credit card number. Just as general fishermen use a variety of fishing methods, phishing scammers use a number of different methods to “hook” their victims, but one phishing tactic is the most common.
The victim receives an email or text message from a sender impersonating a person or organization that the victim trusts, such as a co-worker, bank employee, or government official. When the unsuspecting recipient opens the e-mail or text message, he or she discovers a frightening text specifically designed to suppress common sense and instill fear. The text requires the victim to go to a website and take action immediately to avoid danger or any serious consequences.
If the user takes the “bait” and clicks on the link, it takes him to a website that mimics a legitimate online resource. The website asks the user to “log in” using their account name and password. If the user is gullible enough to agree, the data entered goes directly to attackers, who then use it to steal confidential information or money from bank accounts. They can also sell personal data on the black market.